Nuggets swingman Will Barton missed the entire summer restart due to a nagging – and somewhat mysterious – right knee injury, leaving the Orlando bubble in mid-August to continue his rehab away from the team. However, Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and GM Calvin Booth denied today that there’s any sort of rift between Barton and the club.
“No, not at all,” Booth said, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I think he left the bubble to get the best care he possibly could for his injury. He wasn’t anywhere close to playing at the time he left the bubble. We all thought it was the right decision.”
Both Connelly and Booth stressed Barton’s importance to the Nuggets, with Connelly referring to the 29-year-old as “part of our core,” while Booth suggested he might’ve been the team’s third-best player during the regular season. Booth said the Nuggets don’t have long-term concerns about Barton’s knee, which they think should be fine by next year.
“It’s a shame that he got banged up during the hiatus,” Connelly added. “I think he’s as motivated as ever. We talk all the time, and we fully expect to see the best version of Will that they’ve seen, thus far, next season.”
Here’s more out of Denver:
- According to Connelly, the league-wide perception of the Nuggets has changed in recent years. He explained that four or five years ago, agents wouldn’t necessarily want their players traded to Denver, but now it’s become “a team that you want to be around” (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).
- Both Connelly and Booth told reporters today that they’d like to bring back as many players from this year’s team as possible, tweets Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee, and Torrey Craig are among the players expected to reach the free agent market.
- Asked about the possibility of adding another piece to their roster this offseason, Connelly said today that the Nuggets are always trying to be aggressive (Twitter link via Singer).
- Gary Harris wasn’t at his best this summer after returning from a hip injury, shooting just 25.9% from the field in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. However, head coach Michael Malone praised Harris’ postseason defense and said that his confidence in the veteran guard hasn’t wavered, Singer writes for The Denver Post. “We don’t get to the Western Conference Finals without him,” Malone said. “That’s just the truth.”